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Just One Minute

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Hello. My name is Nathan Roberts and I am dead. It wasn't anything too brutal, just one day I was biking, and a car was coming and… I don't remember much more than that, just that I was dead at a mere eleven years of age.

It felt as if I had been knocked out by whatever happened as the feeling I first got was much like waking up. I was in a strange place like nowhere I had ever been; like no place I've ever seen. It was just a road where the only direction was straight. Everything else was an all-consuming blackness. I did the only thing I could do; I walked.

I walked and I walked until I came to a building. I hadn't seen it in the dark before as the building was as black as the night itself. It had no windows, but it had a strangely welcoming feel to it, as if it would guide me through this desolate wasteland.

Inside was a man. He was the most normal man I had ever seen with normal blue eyes, normal black hair of normal length, and a normal height and weight. His eyes were kind but hard, eyes that you knew would help you, but would offer no forgiveness shall you fail.

I politely asked him where I was, why I was there, if he could help me. To all these questions he simply replied, "Yes."

I asked him what he meant and he said, "I can help you, but you must first run an errand for me. This is not purely for my benefit though; it will give you what you want as well."

I was still confused, so I asked him what I wanted and he chuckled and said, "Why, life of course! You are dead. This is the land of the dead, but if you do this errand for me you will be granted a second life."

I asked him what the errand was and he explained, "I will send you to the surface. While you are there you may ask whomever and as many people as you like if they will donate one minute of their life to you so you may live one minute more."

This deal seemed very beneficial to me and I whole-heartedly agreed.

"When you are done," he said, "just say the word 'done' and you will return here where I will bestow upon you the minutes you received."

And just like that, I was back on the surface. I was slightly transparent and looked much like an angel or other benign creature, but definitely not of the land-of-the-living.

Then I started asking. I asked for a very long time, month’s maybe years, but finally I said, "Done."

I was back in the man's room. He congratulated me and said I had acquired two billion, three-hundred eighty million, and two-hundred sixty-three thousand and five minutes of life. He told me that I would now be sent back to the surface to live out the rest of my life.

"Also," he added, "you may ask more people for a minute of their lives as you come closer to your Final Judgment."

I asked him, suddenly a little afraid, what that meant. He explained that it was what happens to all that fall into his grasp. Suddenly, understanding began to dawn on me. I had made a deal with the Devil, and not only had I sealed my own fate, but I brought everyone I asked one minute closer to theirs, too. He smiled at my understanding, a cruel slit being forced into the shape of a crescent.

"Enjoy your new life Nathan," he said smoothly as he faded out of existence.

I woke up. I was in a hospital. My body was wracked with pain. I looked down at my body and saw people I did not recognize crying over my broken body. Blood-soaked bandages draped my body.

It looked as if I had gone through a human meat grinder and somehow made it out... but barely. I was dying again and I knew it. This wasn't supposed to happen! I had just started my new life and already it was ending. I knew it couldn't be though… I still had time left… I was very confused, and then I died again.

I woke up. I was in an alley strolling around. It appeared to be very late at night. I walked through the alley very quickly, only to be pulled back by the collar of my shirt. I turned around and came face-to-face with a small, rat-like man with a mane of hair that looked as if it had never been washed.

He pulled a gun on me and asked for my money. I told him I didn't have any. He shoved the gun into my stomach and I became frantic. I started screaming for help. He knew it would attract too much attention and he blew my guts out. I was dead for a third time.

I awoke again. This time on a cliff face. It seemed all my deaths had happened shortly after I awoke. It was like a dream where you are violently transported from one fake reality to another. The only difference was that this wasn't a dream; it was real. My watch read 9:48 A.M.

Our group had started climbing up the cliff face. I felt terrified of heights even though I never had before. In my panic I did not harness myself and slipped. I fell down the mountain. When I stopped I knew I was beyond repair. I made a herculean effort to move my arm to my face. The watch read 9:49 A.M; exactly one minute.

Yet again I awoke. This time I was strapped down to a flat table. My limbs were slick with liquid, but I was blindfolded and could not see. Suddenly, the blindfold was yanked from my face. I saw him. I saw the man in the black building. He was smiling, but the smile was too wide. It was as if face was just one big smile.

"Don't you see?" he asked.

"See what?" I replied, on the verge of panic.

He cackled. "You made a deal with me. Don't you know who I am? I am Satan and you are living a torment that is just sliver better than what I deal out and that is because of one reason: It is finite. My wrath is eternal and you will feel it soon enough."

"Why?" I plead. I am now crying.

“To teach you a lesson," he explained, "that the world is a cruel place. Nobody just gives out gifts. Charity is a lie. They knew. Every single person you asked knew what minute of their lives they would give you."

Then it hit me. It was so gut-wrenchingly depressing I just wanted to curl up into a ball, but I couldn't. I was destined to live the last minute of two billion, three-hundred eighty million, two-hundred sixty-three thousand and five people's lives; to suffer two billion three-hundred eighty million, two-hundred sixty-three thousand and five deaths. And when it was all over I was to live in eternal torment.

But I can run. I can try to run forever. I can collect minutes from people and people are always being born. Please help me; I beg you. I only ask for a small donation.

Just one minute.

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